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'Catastrophic' $600 Children's Car Seat Pulled From Shelves After Damning Test

A children's car seat has been pulled from Australian shelves after a recent test drive saw a dummy ejected from it, in what the NRMA deemed "a catastrophic performance failure".

Shocking video of the test carried out on the Joie i-Travvel car seat showed the dummy shoot forward on impact with the seatbelt straps appearing to completely come off its body before it is ejected headfirst from the seat.

Motoring body NRMA said it was the first time in the Child Restraint Evaluation Program's (CREP) 28-year testing history that a dummy was ejected during a crash testing in ISOfix forward-facing mode.

As a result of the test, the program, which aims to provide more rigorous testing than those in the mandatory Australian Standards, has decided to overhaul its testing protocol to allow for a zero-rating to be given.

It's the first time a dummy has been ejected during testing in the Child Restraint Evaluation Program which started in 1992. Image: NRMA.

In a statement on its website, Joie defended the car seat's safety and noted the test is outside the standard it is required to meet.

The Joie i-Travvel retailed for more than $600.

"The Joie i-Travvel car seat meets all official Australian Safety Standards and is completely safe to use," the brand claimed.

"The CREP test in question was conducted outside this standard. There is no recall required as the seat meets the relevant standard."

The company said it prioritises safety "above all else", and is working to understand how the CREP testing was carried out.

"We are deeply troubled by the CREP result. The safety and well-being of our customers and their children is paramount to Joie Baby, and we are thoroughly reviewing the results as a matter of utmost urgency to understand the results fully and what further action may be taken. We are also liaising with the ACCC."

A photo of the test seat. Image: NRMA.

But retailer Baby Bunting who stocks the product said it was suspending sales of the car seat until "further investigations are completed."

“While the car seat in question is certified as meeting Australian safety standards, customer and child safety is our number one priority, which is why we have taken precautionary action," Baby Bunting CEO Matt Spencer said.

In a statement, the retailer said it only stocked car seats that met the Australian mandatory product safety standards, adding that the CREP rating assesses how car seats perform in conditions outside of that standard.

Spencer said Baby Bunting had received no reports of safety issues associated with the car seat since it was released in April last year but said the CREP test was "clearly concerning".

He said parents who have purchased the car seat would be offered an exchange or refund where applicable.

Executive Officer of Kidsafe NSW Christine Erskine urged the seat's manufacturer to ensure all of its products are "completely safe in all modes and meet community expectations".

"This must include car seats currently in use by unsuspecting families," Erskine said, adding that CREP partners, which include Transport for NSW, TAC, RACV, Vic Roads and RACQ, have a "moral responsibility" to inform parents and carers about the latest test results.

NRMA’s Road Safety Expert, Dimitra Vlahomitros said a child restraint that doesn't restrain a dummy "just doesn't cut it".

National

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"These tests demonstrate once again that not all car seats are created equal and the manufacturer needs to lift its game,” Vlahomitros said.

"Choosing the correct child seat could be a lifesaving decision so it is critical parents make their purchase based on performance and ease of use rather than price or aesthetics.”

But the Joie i-Travvel wasn't the only cause for concern among the six child seats that were involved in the latest test.

The NRMA said not one of the seats, which were tested in seven modes and scored on safety and ease of use, scored five stars.

Further, only two of the seats managed to score four stars.

Image: NRMA>

The NRMA recommends that parents and carers looking to buy a car seat that can be used as children get older should consider whether it offers good protection across the different modes and that it is professionally installed.

While Joie is not recalling the product, it did issue a recall notice for one of its other car seats ranges in November last year -- the 'i-Gemm', because of "inconsistencies related to the infant capsule and base."

The company said it had discovered the issue during its "ongoing rigorous safety checks", adding that all of its car seats have been tested and approved by the Australian/New Zealand Standard.

"As child safety is our first priority, we are issuing a voluntary recall on the affected models," the company said at the time.